Every patient, no matter the illness, is always scared to make their own decision because they fear what they don’t know. This mindset needs to shift. Robin Farmanfarmaian believes that every patient should have control over their healthcare. With fast-paced exponential technology taking over almost every industry these days, it wouldn’t be a surprise if medicine would get the same level of disruption Uber did with transportation. Have you ever had that moment when one breakthrough stopped you in your tracks, but there was no one to tell it to? Carey Ralston and Hallway Stories wants you to share your breakthroughs and experiences to empower and impact others. Carey identifies her company as similar to a dating website, but the connection happens through the sharing of life stories.
Today we have two very successful women entrepreneurs. We have Robin Farmanfarmaian and Carey Ralston. Robin is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, professional speaker and Angel investor. Carey Ralston is the Founder and CEO of Hallway Stories. They both have very unique businesses that they run and we’re going to talk to both of them about that.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Fast Pace Of Exponential Technology with Robin Farmanfarmaian
I am here with Robin Farmanfarmaian who’s an entrepreneur, bestselling author, professional speaker and angel investor with a deep understanding of the convergence of accelerating technology and how that’s impacting and disrupting medicine over the next ten years. She works on early and mid-stage startup companies poised to impact at least 100 million people, using cutting edge technology, medicine or science. She typically works on multiple startup companies at a time, specializing in strategy, funding revenue, major partnerships, thought leadership and conferences. She’s also author, she’s got a book that’s a number one best seller and I want to talk to you today. I’m so interested in having you on the show, Robin. Welcome.
Thank you so much. I’ve been really looking forward to this.
This is going to be fun and we talked for just a second before. Your last name is Farmanfarmaian. You were laughing because I said it right and correctly. The reason I did is because I watch Big Bang Theory and they have that one episode where they were referred to Dr. Farmanfarmaian. Are you related to him?
Yes, that is my former cousin-in-law. Anyone with that last name is related to me, absolutely.
My husband’s going to love that because we watch Big Bang all the time. Usually they do use real names of people on the show, physicists and whatever. I wasn’t sure if that one was made up or if it was real. You don’t hear that name very often. It’s good to know it’s real. Your background fascinates me. I worked in pharmaceuticals and my husband’s a physician. We’ve talked a little about that but you deal with a lot of medical related things because of your background. It’s a very difficult thing that you’ve gone through as a child. I’m curious if you want to share that story of what led to your interest in this.
I was sixteen when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. By the time I was nineteen, they took out my large intestine which they said was a cure and took me off all the medications that had anything to do with treating a disease. They started treating me instead with very high dose opiates because I was in such extreme pain which they thought was because of the six major surgeries. Two of them were emergencies like this. There was a lot going on in my mid-section, so they just assumed it was life-long and it was caused by all the surgery. Finally, by the age of 26, I hated being on all these opiates. It wasn’t working and I was in extreme pain. All of a sudden, I could not work. I could barely even go to the grocery store. I went to my doctors and I said, “I need off of all these drugs now, the rebound pain is worse than the real pain.” They said the next step would be to surgically implant a morphine pump into my spine. I was 26 and I’m like, “How long am I going to live? Am I going 30 before I’m dead?” I just said, “Absolutely not,” and I fired everyone. I took myself off of about 40% of the Methadone overnight. I crawled across the floor going through essentially heroin withdrawal by myself at 26.I rebuilt my healthcare team, got off all the medications, and finally got diagnosed correctly with Crohn’s disease, put on Remicade, and went into remission overnight.
After they’ve taken out three of your organs.
Yes, and thirteen-year misdiagnosis, treated incorrectly, and ten years without any type of treatment whatsoever for severe Crohn’s disease.
I’ve seen so many doctors because of all the years working in pharmaceuticals. They’re taught what they’re taught. They don’t know what they don’t know. They treat you with what they think is best. It’s very frustrating because when you’re young, you think they know everything and they know the answer and they’re going to fix you.
We always look at them almost like gods, never as victims. We sit down and we’re like, “This is this brilliant, genius person who’s going to tell me what’s wrong in these five minutes, and then fix me and I won’t have to put any effort into it. I can go home and everything’s going to be better,” the same way you bring in your car and the mechanic fixes it. That’s not the reality. Doctors know only what they are trained in. Medicine is so gigantic that you’re just trained in one tiny vertical. Someone who’s in dermatology is not going to be able to know a significant amount of, say, cancer of the liver. You’ve got to go to a doctor who is an expert in that. If you’re a patient, you don’t even necessarily know which expert to go to, and then they’re not talking to each other which is why it’s so important that the patient take control and be the CEO of the health care team.
Did you ever read the book Against Medical Advice by Patterson by chance?
You might find that one a good one because Patterson usually writes fiction but he wrote a non-fiction story. The kid, he had Tourette’s and they just kept torturing him with all these different medications. If it didn’t work, if he had horrible side effects, they would just double it. It was just the most horrible thing to read. It was a very well written book. It gives you an idea of what they do in medicine because they just don’t know what they’re doing. I liked that you want to help patients take control of their healthcare and that’s what the guy does in it. You might find that book fascinating. How do you think patients should be able to take control of their healthcare? I know Mayo and some of them are getting databases where things are being shared more, but is there another solution?
It’s a huge mindset shift because a lot of the time patients aren’t taking control. Literally thinking about yourself as the center of a healthcare team and thinking about yourself as the one who is responsible to be able to gather the right people and hire the right healthcare professionals to give you advice so that you can take all of their opinions, put it together into one clear cut action plan for yourself. Because if you’re not doing that, that’s a full on mindset shift. You don’t ever expect to do that.
A lot of patients are afraid they’re going to make the wrong decision and they listen to these side effects that they list for these horrific things that they list online or you can go down these rabbit holes and it’s really kind of hard to know which way to go. I was watching your videos that you have online, part of it. I was at the Genius Network this year and I watched your video from last year, and you had some great statistics and things that you talk about. You talked about something called exponential technology and how that can help patients since the sixties of exponential technology. Do you mind kind of going into that because I think everybody would be really fascinated by that discussion.
When you were talking about exponential technology, it is moving so quickly that we do not have a reference point in history, even in our own small individual lives yet, to be able to peg just how quickly it’s moving. To give you a general idea, the sixties of exponential technology are essentially rules or just truth that are coming at us. Exponential technology is disruptive, meaning it can take down entire industries and what can be measured in almost months, if not just a couple of years. Uber is a prime example of that. The reason is because it’s catalyzed by platform technology, connectivity, and being able to tap into the power of the crowd. There are a lot of technologies that are enabling those things to happen. You can think about technology as being deceptive, because what has happened in the past few years is not a reflection of how quickly it’s moving over the next few years.
To give you an example of that, 3D printing is actually a 30-year old technology. It has only recently hit its inflection points so that we are now seeing that it’s exponential and it is increasing at an incredible rate. Exponential technology demonetizes things. It takes the money out of something, what that means is look at your iPhone. We are all carrying around over $1 million of technology just in our smart phones. It’s absorbed the camera, it’s absorbed your video, it’s absorbed your database. We all know the apps that have completely demonetized and dematerializing everything out there. Another example of that is Instagram’s free editing software. That was a $2 million software package ten years ago. As a patient or even just in your regular personal life, what was too expensive for you last year, all of a sudden tomorrow is going to be free with an app.
People could probably think of it in terms of what they pay for microwaves or televisions or other things in the past that were so different, and now everything’s so much cheaper. Some of the technology out there that’s impacting patients, I love some of the things you listed, like the flying defibrillator and the ambulance drones. Do you do get to see a lot of cool medical technology?
You would not believe what the cool things I get to see and hear about because I traveled the world. I just spoke in my twelfth country and I’ve done now over 100 speaking engagements. I get to see all the cutting-edge stuff around the world. I just got back from Japan where they have robots. There were so many robots at the conference, it’s just incredible.
I’m fascinated by the things all technology based. They just do so many different things now with keeping track of not just the medical things in technology but genetic sequencing. What do you think of that? I’m curious because I’ve had Richard Stallman on my show who was the creator of the program that’s a part of Linux and all that. Do you have a problem with having your genetic code out there? Do you like that? What do you feel about privacy issues?
I worked at the very first consumer facing genetic testing company in the world called CyGene Laboratories in 2005.To tell you how much I love this industry, absolutely. Think about it as a key to the human body. The more we know about it, the more data, and the more people that get their genome sequenced, the more we’re going to be able to fix problems before they even start. We’ll be able to identify problems with you before it starts so that you can treat it and never have to go through diabetes, cancer or things like that.
Before the Genius Networking event, my husband and I took out Naveen Jain who does all the research on the microbiome. We were talking to him because my husband’s a physician and we wanted to get his input. I was asking him about his work with looking at all the problems with our gut and how it impacts us. He thinks that we’re going to see where you don’t think of the brain is the most important organ, but the stomach will be or the gut. I imagine based on what you’ve gone through, you probably have some input on that?
I do. The brain still is considerably more important because I don’t have a large intestine, which is what people think of as the gut. That’s where the vast majority of the microbiome resides, the one that people talk about, and not as completely removed in me. I’m hoping that the brain in your head is considerably more important or else I’m walking around without a brain.
Apparently not, based on everything you’re doing, I need to have my intestines reduced to be at your level. You can do amazing things and it’s unfortunate you’ve had to go through all this. If you hadn’t gone through all this, would you have gone into the depth of what you’ve gone into your interest in all this?
I have two ways of thinking about that. We are a sum of our experiences. I went through this extreme trauma. You look at all the most successful entrepreneurs most of the time. We have the fortitude to be able to go through life the way we do with high risk. A lot of that has to do with the extreme trauma that some entrepreneurs go through in their lives to turn them into this area. That is a big precipitating factor of the fact that I’m an entrepreneur working on companies poised to impact 100 million patients. In general also, my mom was a pediatrician, one of three women in her medical school at the time. Women just weren’t physicians in 1964. My dad is a Chemistry major at MIT turned intellectual property attorney who specializes. He does everything. His favorite part is the gut medicine and biotech. I grew up in a household of cutting edge medicine where the women were the leaders in the world of healthcare.
You’ve probably got the best healthcare there was and it still isn’t enough.
I went to the Harvard in Dartmouth and my mom had massive pull because she works for Dartmouth. We were very well known in these areas. I got the best care possible in New England and it still was a thirteen-year misdiagnosis.
It’s just so awful to hear these stories because you just can’t believe some of the stuff that’s going on out there. If you had waited to do the surgeries, what would that have done for you?
There’s two ways that could have gone as well. I had such severe disease, at some point they said I would probably have colon cancer by the time I was 30, but that’s because I had a disease that they thought was completely out of control. Within four years of them taking out my entire large intestine, Remicade hit the market. This was a game-changing drug for hundreds of millions of patients with autoimmune diseases because it treats ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and a few other diseases. It’s called an anti-tumor necrosis factor. It turns off essentially inflammation way before it starts. To say it in layman’s terms, it’s just turning off that inflammation way down where it’s beginning versus when we take an Advil or steroids were we’re trying to reduce the inflammation versus turn it off.
It is interesting to see the options out there of what’s out there just since. I haven’t been in pharmaceuticals for a long time, but just to see the advancements of what’s out there. We’ll start to see a lot more technology taking over and helping patients. I was looking at your videos and you were talking about artificial intelligence for a little while there. I’m curious, because you were talking about emotional robots and different things, do you agree or do you disagree or what do you think of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk and all their concerns about AI? Do you have any concerns?
Yes, absolutely. I love AI. We have passed the point of no return already. Regardless of what we’re saying going forward, we’ve already laid out a path because AI is smart enough and we are so dependent on it in our daily lives. We all use AI almost second by second now in our entire life. You cannot get rid of it at this point. It could potentially go out of control because it’s teaching itself language and languages that human beings cannot understand. These are computer languages. It has beat now a huge number of games which has infinite possibilities. The fact that it can be the human being in these things is indicative of the fact that it can, at some point, take over and control our entire environment if it chooses to. Remember, it’s also garbage in, garbage out. What are human beings programming it to do? Who is in control? If somebody who wants to blow up half the world is in control and they’re able to look how fast AI turned misogynistic. When Microsoft first to release an AI bot on, Twitter immediately turned it completely like I hate mongering Nazi almost, and it happened in hours. Yes, it can be terrifying, but it’s also a game changer.
You talk about a lot of different emotional robots and different things and the new other things I thought you were talking about that were fascinating that tie into all this was the internet of you and wearables and where you see it going into epidermal and subcutaneous things and tissue engineering. What do you see for the future of some of this technology?
I co-founded a non-profit called the Organ Preservation Alliance. We catalyze breakthroughs in tissue engineering and cryo preservation. I have a lot of vested interest in this area. I do believe that we’re going to start to look at disease, instead of treating you with a pharmaceutical or something else, we can literally just switch out your organs, with organs made from your own stem cells. There’s no transplant rejection and you suddenly are going to live longer because your organs age just like you do. If your liver is 40 years old and you switch it out with a brand new liver, all of a sudden you can do that with all your organs and potentially extend life significantly.
Would you be interested in 3D printing your intestines? Would you do an exchange like that? Is that something that would appeal to you?
Potentially. I would have to look and see because small intestine and large intestine transplants are virtually unheard of right now. There’s a few cases every once in a while. There’s just not enough data on how you would even do it. This is such an intricate part. If you screw that up, you die. You can’t live without eating. I would look at that maybe in like 30 years. I’m expecting to be able to see a vascularized organ in about ten years, coming out of places like Lung Biotechnologies or Organovo being able to do a vascularized actual organ. Right now we can do cells of organs like tiny little 3D printed liver or kidney to test for drug toxicity, but that cannot replace a normal liver yet. In about ten years, we might be able to do that.
Some of the things you have been able to so far, like the amputee legs, where you had the woman with the dozen different legs she can pick from each day. That’s amazing. It blows me away. The context for measuring glucose and some of the stuff that they have out there already, I could see a huge advantage too for a lot of people. My father was born with 2% vision. He was born basically blind. I look at what are they going to be able to replace. Are they going to do eyes? What do you think is going to be the most amazing thing coming up soon?
There’s just so much. You talked a little bit about wearable technology. I call it an industry in its infancy because it’s still mostly consumer facing with very consumer-friendly products like stepping, analyzing your steps, and stuff. We’re seeing a huge amount going into the world of clinical. The reason we haven’t thus far is because it takes a few years to get through FDA approval and millions of dollars. These companies that are startups, it’s much cheaper to go direct to consumer and not worry about the FDA approval medical route. Now that it’s a few years in, we’re seeing a lot more companies going down that route and being able to hit the market because it’s been enough time. Sensor technology is one of those exponential technologies where it’s getting faster, better, cheaper, and easier over the next couple of years.
The point of care diagnostics, things like fifteen-lead EKG monitoring shirts that are ICU quality that you can have in your home that you can throw in the washing machine, socks that measure temperature of your foot, why this is so important is because if you can measure the temperature parts of your foot, you can see if ulcers are starting to form. If you have diabetes and you get a foot ulcer, you are at risk for amputation. For a $7 pair of socks that you can throw in the washing machine, you could potentially avoid having your leg amputated.
It’s so amazing what’s out there. I had Craig Weiss on my show. He’s got a company where you wear this headband to sleep and you can control your dreams. I don’t know if you follow that stuff at all.
I have to go see that.
It’s on YouTube. You can find him. His name is Craig Weiss. He’s in the funding stage, but he swears it works. I got to try that because I think that there’s so many things out there that we don’t even think about and it’s coming at us so fast. A lot of people don’t know what to try next because you’ve got too many choices. There’s so much disruptive technology. You gave some good examples of Instagram versus Kodak, Uber in disrupting that industry. I’m always curious what’s going to happen next with education. Do you have an industry you think is going to be the next one that’s completely disrupted the way Uber disrupted transportation?
Any of the platform technologies, if you look at platforms out there right now, they are disrupting every single industry. Society One is the world’s biggest growing bag and it owns no capital. It doesn’t own any of its money. Uber doesn’t own any of its cars. You’ve got Amazon and Alibaba. Alibaba is the world’s biggest door, and they don’t own any of their inventory. Thinking about platform technologies, Airbnb, so what can you make of a platform that will disrupt an entire industry? What is in brick and mortars right now? Books, hotels, cars, all of these things are actual objects. How can you replace those? That’s the way I think about it. Education is ripe for disruption. With the politics here in the United States, if this tax thing goes through where graduate students are going to have to pay taxes on school they’re not even paying for, that is going to completely destroy graduate level education literally overnight, which is in my eyes not too bad because I hacked my own education. I got my BS in management and finance purely because it was expected. Then I went to Harvard, Dartmouth, Stanford, Wellesley, Golden Gate, USF and I took classes that I wanted to, $600 here and there. I took things that I needed to educate myself in the verticals that I chose to, and I saved $100,000 minimum and years of my life. Frankly, I’m very glad I did that. I can see other people being able to do that now if graduate school essentially is destroyed.
It’s interesting because years ago I even wrote about it where I was predicting that things would become more ala carte. You’re talking about basically what Steve Jobs did, you sat in on the courses that you wanted to. That’s a really interesting thing. My question to you is, since most people are hired for their skills and fired for their behaviors, what happens to the glue that holds everything together in the past, the humanities and if people don’t choose those, if they don’t choose anything that develops their soft skills or their critical thinking?
That is more along the lines of personality. If you are the personality that would’ve gone into it if it were there, you’re still going to develop that side of yourself, whether it’s expected or whether we’re still going to either self-teach or we’re going to just absorb it from others, if we already had the personality for that.
It will be interesting to see what slack companies pick up for training and things that they don’t maybe get in formal education. I’m very fascinated by the whole training aspect and see what will come from all of this, but everything you do is fascinating. I want people to be able to know how to find out more about you, because you do some amazing work. Can you just share your websites and how they can find you?
Sure. My website is ThePatientCEO.com, and I’m the only Robin Farmanfarmaian in the entire universe. I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. You can easily get a hold of me just by Googling my name and going through my LinkedIn if you’d like.
Thanks, Robin. It was so nice having you on the show. This is all fascinating stuff. I’m going to keep up with watching what you’re up to because you definitely are ahead of the curve and know it all. I love that.
Thank you so much. I had a fantastic time talking with you.
It was fun.
Powerful Hallway Stories with Carey Ralston
I am here with Carey Ralston, who’s the Founder and CEO of Hallway Stories. Featured in USA Today, it is the empowerment community where people can share their life experiences in a private member based setting. She has more than a decade of experience in working in brand creation and brand expansion. She’s a natural team leader who learns every day. She creates solutions that have positive global impact and believe strongly in giving more. It’s so interesting to have you on the show today, Carey. Thank you for being here.
I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. I saw you were on the Nice Guys Podcast. Were you on that?
Yes, I was on with the amazing Nice Guys with Randall Kenneth Jones.
He was on your show, Randy‘s been on my show. It’s fun. You’re part of the C-Suite Network. I’m on that. The C-Suite advisors group do a lot of cool stuff. Doug Sandler is great and you were with Strickland Bonner. You were fun to listen to. I got to learn a lot more from that show, so I’m going to steal a little bit of what I learned from that.
I think they would love that.
They just got a free plug for their podcast, and they do have a good one. I am fascinated by what you do because this is a pretty heart-wrenching thing that you deal with on a day to day basis with some of these stories. You’re the founder and CEO of this. What is Hallway Stories?
Hallway Stories is a place where you can come, connect, belong, and be empowered. How the whole thing came about was I had my own story where I was totally alone and not because I didn’t have a great life, friends and family, but I had an experience. A trauma happened to me, and my circle of friends had never had that experience. I felt that I didn’t have anybody to connect to that could say those powerful words, “I know how you feel and here’s what I did.”At the time, believe me, I didn’t foresee myself creating this space because if I would’ve, I would’ve been using it myself. That’s the essence. We just wanted to create that safe space online where you can connect with somebody that says, “I’ve been there, done that. Here’s what I did to feel better.”
How does it work? Can you give a little background of the site and how people connect and what they should share and all that?
Absolutely. You can come to our community which is HallwayStories.com. You create a little profile similar to a lot of other social media sites. There’s nothing confusing on our site that you wouldn’t experience in other sites. That’s a crucial process to us though because we want people that are coming that are real heartfelt and are going to share some of those experiences. We want to trust our community just as much as they trust us as. As soon as you build this profile, we have topics that cover everything from mental and behavioral health, cancer, weight and body image, to Alzheimer’s.
What we allow our members to do is select a topic and share their story of that experience. They have two ways of sharing. They’re either somebody who may have just been diagnosed who’s looking to connect with somebody who’s already been there, done that or they’re someone that’s saying, “I had once had this and here is what I did to overcome it.” We have two kinds of stories: People that are looking for help and people that are there to offer help. Sometimes I say we’re like a dating website but we’re connecting people through their stories and helping them feel good in the face of trauma or diagnosis.
Why Hallways Stories? What’s the Hallway come from?
Have you ever had that moment in life when you’re almost stopped in your tracks with such a great idea? I happened to have that and I was in a hallway. I was up in Toronto at a Great Leader Seminar and I just stopped and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” It literally took my breath away. I was looking at this incredibly long hallway. I was in Westin and I was like, “How many people in life are hiding behind these doors?” If we could just come into the hallway, even if it was just for five minutes and connect, how many people could we help and serve just by simply saying, “How are you doing today?” Where else do you connect besides in the hallway? Whether that’s the hallway in the hotel, the hallway in Starbucks, it’s just a place to connect so that’s why I named it Hallway Stories because online doesn’t typically have the physical hallway.
There is a place for this for sure. There are so many people that feel like they just have no one to talk to. The only thing I worry about is how do you make sure you get people on there that aren’t just trolls or trying to be difficult to make things worse? There are always creeps out there. How do you avoid that?
I would love to always believe that everybody’s coming with the best of intention, but even the best of intention can come off as bullying. There are two things. We have a $25 annual fee that funds a gamut of programs. Research has shown our company that even just that swipe of a credit card, you’re going to get a whole other caliber of people that are serious. Where you’re finding more people that like to bully or troll a little bit, they’re not going to swipe the credit card in order to do that. Our second layer of protection, which I think is a huge benefit to all of our members, is no stories go unheard. What that means is they go through a process through our journalist team. Every story is read and responded to before it’s posted live. Therefore, we can hopefully avoid some of the advice that may go against our terms and conditions. We have those two layers in there. Then, of course, our members, just like you have on your major social platforms, will notify the company when there is somebody who is abusing the terms and conditions of whatever platform you’re on.
They don’t see the stories until they’ve paid to get in, or can you see stories before you can even respond to them?
No, all of our premium members, all the stories, you have to be a paid member to even interact with and see. That’s done intentionally because if you’re going to come in and talk about something, maybe it’s because you were just diagnosed with cancer and maybe it’s because you were sexually abused, you may not want everybody including other technologies such as Google to be able to find your story. That’s why we are private member-based protected behind a paid wall.
Is it anything at all like a suicide help line for the people who are suicidal? Is there any aspect of it that deals with suicide?
Yes. We have an amazing national partnership we’ve been working on with a company I encourage everybody to look up called No Stigmas. That’s a lot that they deal with. We were like, “How can we offer a place where people can connect?”By no means do I want to say if you’re about to take your own life or you’re having those thoughts, just come to our site because you need to have some immediate attention. This will allow people that are maybe having some self-destructive thoughts to connect with others that say, “I was once here and here’s what I did,” and hopefully in that there can be relieved. We also do have tools on the site, 800-numbers and partners like No Stigmas that can offer immediate assistance. We would not encourage people if that were the last resort, but we do feel that we could offer a lot of support when those feelings start to arise.
You had sent me some statistics and I was shocked by one of them. You said one in five over 60 million Americans woke up feeling absolutely lost and alone in a struggle. Is that the reality? Isn’t that many of us that feel alone?
Study after study has shown that, and not just in America. The UK has dove in deep into what is this impact called loneliness. It used to just be a thing with people that are in their latter years in life. Now they’re finding that people that are in grade school, when they’re waking up and having that confusion, or there is a trauma or a diagnosis, they are having that feeling of loneliness and isolation. What that can do to your grades and to healthcare is astronomical. There’s not actually a full number yet because this research is a little newer, but the impacts are huge. We’re showing that if you can just connect with somebody, not who’s going to say, “Here’s some things you can do,” and offer opinions, but people that can genuinely say, “No, I’ve been there and here’s what I did.”When we read great business books or listen to amazing podcasts, and we’re at that stage in our business, and then we hear somebody who is a few years or months ahead of us, we’re like, “They know how I feel and I can do that.” That’s the essential notion of what Hallway Stories. If we could allow people to have some relief in that struggle, trauma or diagnosis, they can then succeed in other areas and maybe avoid a few less trips to the doctor, hopefully excel then in school depending on which level they’re at.
Are they telling their names or are they giving random screen names on this?
In your profile, you have to use your real name. It has to be verified for all kinds of reasons. We do allow stories to go under an alias for our premium members because say it is something of an abuse or trauma, and they may be afraid that their abuser is on the site. We want to have that level of protection, but we encourage as many of our users to be who they are because this is a place that hopefully you can feel safe to be yourself despite that what you may be thinking outside of the norm.
Do you track their level of education, their job level, or anything like that? Are there more people that have lower education or higher education that have more struggle?
Right now, the data that we have is primarily just name, address and anything that you’re choosing to share, but the stat of one imply across, this is more research driven. It impacts everybody because trauma and tragedy doesn’t care if you make $100,000 and they don’t care if you’re black, white or yellow. It’s across all boards. The stories may be impacted and may have a little different tune to them, but the one in five has no socio-economic bearing at all. There’s no indicator that says once you make $200,000, loneliness goes down.
We talk about them feeling alone and I’m curious, do you think the internet and technology is making them feel more alone or less alone?
That’s such an interesting question because we are an internet-based business. With so many social sites, we’re painting the picture so we get the likes and the comments, but there’s not a lot of truth happening. We want the likes, we want to go viral, so we’re saying what we think people want to hear. There’s very little space in the current platforms for vulnerability and honesty. That’s what we’re wanting. The internet can be a tool to connect. If you look at even how people are starting their marriages, they are using online dating platforms. In that regard, I believe it could be very personal. We are not marketing or visioning that Hallway Stories will be a place where you’re going to paint the picture to get the likes. We want this to be a place where you can come and express how you’re feeling, and allow our technology to connect you with other people that are like, “I have felt that way, too. Here’s what I did.”Maybe you’re struggling right now because of a diagnosis, but you have a great story on how you overcame something, maybe money or weight issues. We’ve created this space where you can come get help, but you can also offer help. That’s what we all want to be, helpful, kind and giving. We have two essential offerings, because I don’t know one person in the world who’s only had one issue in all of their life. If they are, I would like them to call in but you need to interview them.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest show that’s called This is Us where they met in a weight loss group. This one part of the show is a focus on this couple. Do you see people like now that they know each other’s names and they both had the same struggles that this could accidentally be a matching group?
I love the example of This is Us. Chrissy Metz, one day hopefully we would love to have her as a celebrity spokesperson on our behalf. We’ve had some conversations with her so I’m very familiar with that show. Where our connections in Hallway Stories can go, I truly think is infinite, but we right now are very focused on the start of allowing those stories to come in and building up that trust and that brand that this is who we are. There are endless places you can go share your stories, but we want to be that brand where you can trust. This is a trusted safe place where you can come and be empowered and not torn down. Do I think that relationships outside of our sector could build because of that? Absolutely. I wholeheartedly believe that and I hope that happens, whether it’s through a phone call, a letter, or a meet up.
There are these people that could be helpful to one another that are good people. I could see how they could get together just on their commonality of what they’ve gone through. You talk about some of the things that you focus it on. Loss of weight is one thing, body image, autism. Did I hear you say you lost a lot of weight?
I did last August as part of what’s called Hallway Stories journey. I had my own Hallway Story when I was going to meet with an amazing soul who is a huge wellness advocate. I’m down in Southwest Florida. When I was going to meet with her, I was having these days, and there were endless days, and I had just gone through a divorce. I was waking up every day with no motivation to get out of bed. I felt heavy and not just heavy in terms of the scale, I felt heavy by life. I am a very high energy person so this was a feeling I was not very used to dealing with. As I met her and I joke, nothing against Spanx because clearly I used them, but I remember getting dressed for this meeting and I put on a pair of Spanx and I was like, “How are these even tight?” Thinking to myself, I must have dried them too long. We go and have this beautiful interaction where I’m explaining Hallway Stories and we just started literally having our own Hallway Story. I had not shared about what I was feeling inside, but Kristin shared with me this transformation she went on and in terms of food and what wellness really was. I was like, “I must be radiating that I am not feeling very good in my body.” I had taken a book that she highly recommended. I’m an all or nothing person and so I took it to heart and I’m like, “If this is going to allow me to feel light again, I’m all in.” From that day forward, I would like to say I went on a wellness journey in terms of mind, body, and spirit. What I put in my body, what I read, what I listened to, what I watch on the television has all become that I only will do things that result in feeling good. I don’t subject myself to materials or programs where you feel anxious or you feel anger. It was a whole transformation. In that, I did release an incredible amount of weight, but more than the weight was just that excitement to get out of bed and feel that I can be a part of something so amazing verse that dread.
When you bring up your perceptions, dread and things like that, I’ve had people on my show, Lolly Daskal, and other people like that who have talked about leaders and their perceptions of how they feel like people are going to discover that they don’t know as much as they know, that people put them up on pedestals. Do you get any people talking about that thing? They just feel like they’re not what they should be in terms of their jobs and get stressed out by that.
I know exactly what you’re referring to, but in regards to the Hallway Stories community, I haven’t had that as much. In terms of my day to day conversations, interactions, my message to that is we do such a good job at tearing ourselves down and doubting ourselves. I had taken on an attitude of gratitude, not to sound cliché, or being able to appreciate. That starts with the self. I am a firm believer that you cannot give what you don’t have. If we want to give kindness, love, advice, and inspiration, we have to have those things in ourselves. I work on that every day. Before our call, I did an hour reading in one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read called The Power of Intention followed by a meditation and followed by gratitude. That’s why when we came together, I was nothing but appreciative and eager, and we’ve never met. I truly believe if we could all take some time, and I know time is a hot button for a lot of people, to appreciate ourselves, our body, the green grass or the sunshine, you will start to see life in a different way. You can stop to smell the roses and feel that life is a beautiful thing and it’s not a stressful thing. It is all about perspective.
People get this feeling I’m sure in the sense of renewed confidence and all that. I’m curious, do you track how long people are spending in these Hallway Stories?
We can definitely track how long people are in there. Right now, when our members are coming in because we are a newly formed business, they’re just exploring and reading. The average person, when they’re sharing their story, it takes some time. We’re realizing even that as a business there are some tools we might need to offer. In this day and age, when we’re painting a picture for what we think people want to hear and see, sometimes getting in touch with our honesty takes a little time. You almost forget a little bit about, “That did happen.” The writing out of the story for most people does not happen on their first visit to the site at all. It’s mostly people that are coming in reading other stories and becoming comforted, trusted, and we anticipated that because I even remember my first story I wrote, it took me some time and some asking, “Do I want people to know this?” I’m like, “Of course, this is my truth. If my story, this trauma, could help somebody that this happened to today, I have to share, and I need to be honest about it because it did hurt. What’s so cool is it doesn’t define me. I don’t define myself as a survivor of it. I just allowed it to motivate me onto other greatness and appreciate more things in life and not just focus on the trauma.”
Have you thought about a TEDx or Ted Talk about this at all?
That is definitely on the list of items. If you could get us on stage, that would be great. We would love to share this because I would like to think that we have an inspiring, empowering message and a chance to celebrate that things do happen in life. We as people can just come together through our story and truly be the magical pill people are looking for. It doesn’t always have to come in pill form. Your stories can help so many people.
I can see it also would help you to develop a sense of empathy. I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, which empathy’s a big part of emotional intelligence. I can see this would be helpful for people to put themselves in other people’s shoes by reading these stories. I’m sure you get people that are all focused on their own story and forget. Is there a way to make sure people are responding to other people’s stories and not just posting their own, or is it just up to whatever everybody wants to do.
Right now, it is up to the user. However, we are adding in features like featured stories, things that we know are a little more general or have a message that even if it’s cancer, autism or weight and body image, the story could almost help across all gamuts. Similar to mine with my body image and weight loss like that that story could help a lot of people depending on where they are in their wellness journey. We will be adding features like that because we want to encourage the conversation and the dialogue and hoping that people become addicted to the feeling good. We know even if they come for five minutes a day but they feel so good, that will transpire out in the rest of the world or their day. They will be happier at work, they will be happier in their relationships. We’re hoping that even if it’s a short amount of time that it will transpire in large ways.
Explain how people can find this help. Where do they go to sign up and find out more about this?
You can come to HallwayStories.com and you can find us on your favorite social media platform. We’re pretty active on Facebook and Twitter because those two are the founder. It seems that there are so many and depending on whom I’m speaking with, you can find us in those three areas but HallwayStories.com is the easiest. You can easily contact us directly since we are a newer business, the odds that I will respond or my other Co-Founder or one of our social media teams. You’re going to get a direct response from us and we’re happy to answer any questions in terms of your story. We’re looking for great partners, too. We’re working with a lot of non-profit entities where our service and their service are coming together as one.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Carey. This has been so fascinating and it’s so nice to have met you.
It’s so nice to meet you too. Thank you.
Thank you so much to Robin and to Carey. They both had some wonderful things they’ve made, these companies, out of some sad situations that happened prior to that. It’s always amazing to me what great things sometimes come out of these companies that people have these hardships or issues that they face, and they make it into something great for other people. I have a lot of great stories from a lot of our guests on this show. If you’ve missed any of them, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com/Episodes and you can catch them there. I hope you catch the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
About Robin Farmanfarmaian
Robin Farmanfarmaian is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, professional speaker, and angel investor with a deep understanding of the convergence of accelerating technology and how that is impacting and disrupting medicine over the next 5-10 years. She works on early and mid-stage startup companies poised to impact at least 100M people, using cutting edge technology in medicine or science. She typically works on multiple startup companies at a time, specializing in strategy, funding, revenue, major partnerships, thought-leadership, and conferences.
About Carey Ralston
Carey Ralston has more than a decade of experience working in Brand Creation & Brand Expansion. A natural team leader who learns every day, she creates solutions that have Positive Global Impact and believes strongly in giving more. Carey understands expectations across multiple levels of sales including television, radio, print, digital, social media and retail. She has a proven record of increasing revenues year over year, brand development and training. Carey encourages growth through multiple aspects of companies.
- Robin Farmanfarmaian
- Against Medical Advice
- Genius Network
- Naveen Jain
- Organ Preservation Alliance
- Lung Biotechnologies
- Robin’s LinkedIn
- Robin’s Facebook
- Robin’s Twitter
- Carey Ralston
- Hallway Stories
- Nice Guys Podcast
- Randall Kenneth Jones
- C-Suite Network
- Doug Sandler
- Strickland Bonner
- No Stigmas
- This is Us
- The Power of Intention
- Hallway Stories’ Facebook
- Hallway Stories’ Twitter